Kirk Stansel, a Big Lake guide for the past 31 years and part owner of Hackberry Rod and Gun Club shifted his weight from foot to foot with both hands tucked in his pockets while delivering his message to members and guests of the Golden Triangle CCA Chapter Thursday night. The affable guide wasn’t nervous…he was freezing to death!

Considering his wealth of experience, Kirk’s talk was probably deemed too brief by most of those still huddled together under the cover of Munro’s outdoor pavilion following a great fish dinner. By the time I finished the program with a Sabine Lake report, those that came just to eat were warming up their truck heaters while Kirk and I moved indoors to answer individual questions without our teeth chattering.

The way this winter has gone thus far, I am not sure it will be any warmer by May 20, but at least the Chapter’s annual banquet will be held indoors. Thursday night will also be an indoor affair as the Sabine Neches Chapter hosts its annual Crawfish Boil and fundraiser at the IBEW Hall on Spindletop Rd. in Beaumont.

That chilly evening last week came as no surprise as most of the fishermen showed up clad in overcoats and foul weather gear. Local anglers have seen very few back to back days even in the 60’s since late December. Mix in an ample dose of unwanted rain and 20 mile per hour winds howling from a different direction each day and you have to really be mad at the fish to get in a day on the water.

If you are in a position to go at the drop of a hat, there have been a handful of days to kill for. The water clears a little, the surface temperature eases up into the 50’s and the bite is on for one or two days. Even before you can tell a friend, however, the favorable conditions are little more than a memory as the next front plunges southward.

Kirk and I spent the early part of the evening comparing notes and while both lakes fish very differently, most of the techniques are the same as well as choice of lures. They don’t have to deal with two rivers dumping fresh muddy water into their lake, but even at that, he said that most of the larger trout caught in the past week came out of dirtier water.

“I had two of my guides out today and they caught six or seven trout up to six-pounds fishing the dirtier water on the north end of the lake,” said Stansel. “Fishing suspending baits at a snail’s pace was the ticket.”

The Corky is as deadly on Big Lake as it is on Sabine, but the Catch 2000 is more popular on the Louisiana bay. For several years we absolutely made a living over there with a chrome-pearl sided 2000, but Kirk says the pink version is much more dependable for his guides day in and day out.

While it may very well be the action or louder rattle as opposed to other lures, it may also be the smaller size. Brad Deslatte and I wore the fish out on Big Lake on a miserable weather day with the smaller Crazy Croaker when the fish would hit nothing else. Believe me……. I threw everything else until I could no longer stand it!

Kirk also said they are fishing suspending baits slower than ever before to catch their fish and we have experienced the same thing on Sabine. Early last week we could not draw a strike without bumping the grass or shell. As soon as you pulled it free the fish would hit the bait.

Sunday afternoon the wind was roaring out of the southeast and the water was as dirty as I have seen it this year. We made two non-productive wades before stopping to fish one last stretch of shoreline on the way back. A backlash that resulted in a Corky lingering on the bottom produced a strike and it was “game on” for the next two hours.

We fished tails, Swim Baits, and Corkies the same way and the redfish and four large flounder ate them up. We only caught one solid trout, but no one was complaining. Every strike, regardless of the choice of lures, came immediately after jerking it free from a temporary snag.

It is pouring right now and I have already canceled parties for the next two days, but I am reluctant to complain as we are at least able to squeeze in a trip every few days. The anticipated warmer days of March and April will be of little value if the wind blows like it did last spring!